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by Abigail Van Buren

Woman Wants to Know Why She Still Takes Man's Abuse

DEAR ABBY: I am terribly confused and at my wit's end. I left my husband five years ago for a younger man who showed me wonderful attention and admiration. Over the last few years, this relationship has turned ugly. There has been some physical abuse and a lot of verbal abuse. Of course, he doesn't think words can be abusive. Last night was the last straw. He said some things to me that were very cruel, and now I know that we should no longer be together.

So why am I having such a difficult time breaking it off with him? I am a successful, intelligent professional woman. Why do I give in to him over and over again and take him back after he humiliates me? He tells me I deserve it. It makes me so angry at him, and myself.

What makes someone with intelligence and common sense stay in such an awful relationship?

Abby, please help me to understand, so I can break this abusive cycle. I will be anxiously awaiting your reply. -- DISGUSTED WITH MYSELF, LA MESA, CALIF.

DEAR DISGUSTED: I am not qualified to psychoanalyze you, but my best guess is that you are angry with yourself for having left your husband for a younger man who conned you into believing he was some kind of prize.

No woman deserves to be humiliated and abused verbally or physically. I advise you to say goodbye to this poor excuse for a man -- and the sooner the better.

There are worse things than being alone, and you are now experiencing them. Write again in three months. And if you weaken -- reread this letter.

DEAR ABBY: Though they did not ask, I am writing this on behalf of all "steps" and "in-laws" in hopes of enlightening our society.

When I was a teen-ager, my father died of a massive heart attack. Four years later, my mother married a wonderful man whom I loved dearly. Eighteen years later, we buried him after he lost his struggle with cancer.

Over the past month, I have been amazed at the insensitivity of people. There seems to be a common misconception that because a mother, father or child is a "step," the significance of that relationship is diluted.

Let me assure you that neither blood ties nor time determines the depth and strength of a relationship. The case of Susan Smith comes to mind. Those were her flesh-and-blood children whose seat belts she strapped before pushing that car into the lake!

One of the coldest, albeit most innocent, shocks I got was when a co-worker asked me after I returned from the funeral of my second father, "Was he your real father or just your stepfather?" Just? That made him sound positively throwaway!

My mother received a staggering outpouring of love and caring. She lost a husband, and I lost a father -- not a stepfather. I hope this letter will cause people to think with their hearts and not their dictionaries.

I am signing my name, but if you use this, I respectfully request anonymity. Thank you. -- GRIEVING DAUGHTER

DEAR GRIEVING: Thank YOU for a heartfelt message. Please accept my condolences.

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

4900 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64112; (816) 932-6600